Last updated on September 23rd, 2019 at 08:42 am
London is one of the most famous tourist destinations in the world and it’s just as popular with people from all over the UK. Because of its popularity, the city continues to invest in accessibility, from public transport to top attractions. Summer is a great time to explore all that London has to offer; sunny weather provides the perfect backdrop for journeys around the city. This summer we thought we’d play tour guide for wheelchair users and others with accessibility concerns by giving you some of the best accessible tourist attractions in London.
Photo: Britain Explorer
If you have dreams of travelling the world but can’t quite afford a round-the-world ticket then you can always just buy a ticket to London and visit the British Museum instead. This world-famous museum houses amazing artefacts from all over the world, giving you a view into cultures both ancient and new. From the Rosetta Stone to Egyptian mummies, there’s really something for everyone at the British Museum.
Photo: British Museum
Thanks to their amazing accessibility, everyone includes people with disabilities too. There is step free access throughout most the building thanks to lifts and level access at their Montague Place entrance as well as other easy access routes for buggies, wheelchairs and guide dogs. There are also accessible toilets throughout the museum and guides with descriptive audio and British Sign Language. There is limited disabled parking that needs to be organised in advance, but if you’re planning a visit it’s always good to phone ahead about accessibility. The museum can help arrange guided tours, free floor plans and other resources to help with your day.
Photo: Buckingham Palace
The only flush we want this summer is a royal one. Buckingham Palace is one of the few working and lived-in royal palaces in the world and visitors to London rarely pass up a chance to get a bit closer to our world-famous royal family. During the summer it opens up to visitors and it’s a great time of year to see the palace and the grounds looking their best.
Photo: Buckingham Palace
As you’d expect from one of the most popular buildings in the world, the Palace offers great accessibility although there is booking required. They provide lift measurements on their website to check wheelchair and scooter compatibility or there are manual ones to borrow free of charge. The State Rooms are fully accessible but you will need to call up and pre-book step-free access. They also offer induction loops and BSL video tours for anyone with a hearing disability, and you can find detailed information about all the steps and other accessibility obstacles along with pictures on their website to help you plan your trip.
Photo: Tower Bridge
“London’s defining landmark” is not an overstatement when it comes to the iconic Tower Bridge. Featured in movies, on posters and everything in-between, a trip to London just wouldn’t be complete without taking a tour. London Bridge offers incredible views of London, loads of history and interesting background plus information on feats of engineering and architecture that are truly amazing.
We think Tower Bridge really pushes the boat out when it comes to accessibility and disability friendly facilities. They note on their website that they open later on the third Saturday of everything month to accommodate autism-friendly early opening times. They offer plenty of information for getting there by public transport as the bridge is a red route with no stopping although there is a Blue Badge parking option available near by. Both the bridge and engine room entrances are fully accessible, and while you can call up beforehand to help plan your trip there are plenty of information guides that can help with priority entry, free maps showing all the lifts, accessible toilets and much more.
Photo: Tower Bridge
Perhaps the best thing about Tower Bridge is their attention to all disabilities, not just accessibility. Along with BSL tours, braille and high contrast booklets and a visual story available to download, they also offer three types of access tool kits. They contain sensory items to help visitors that may struggle with the busy and overwhelming environment such as those who are autistic, anxious or suffering from panic attacks.
Photo: National Gallery
Get a good dose of culture with breathtaking artwork at the National Gallery. It’s a chance to get up close to some of the worlds most famous artists and paintings of all time including Monet, Rembrandt and even Vincent van Gogh’s famous Sunflowers painting. The National Gallery has plenty of different exhibitions and events on at various times aimed at art lovers, children and families alike so it’s worth checking out their website before you go.
Photo: National Gallery
Luckily the National Gallery offers plenty of natural open space and easy access that is already perfect for wheelchairs users, but just like Tower Bridge parking can be tricky. There is one designated parking space close to the gallery for visitors only that needs to be booked 48 hours in advance but they also offer clear information about getting to the gallery with public transport and step-free stations. They also offer a range of multimedia tours and art sessions for those that are deaf, hard of hearing, blind or partially sighted. They are free of those with a disability and available from the audio guide desks.
Get a taste of fame at the glamorous Madame Tussauds, London’s number one hang out for all your favourite celebrities and characters, or at least the waxworks ones. Founded by wax sculptor Marie Tussaud in London in 1836, this top tourist attraction is steeped in history as well as celebrities. While they now have smaller museums all over the world, nothing quite compares to the original. They’re continually updating their lifelike wax figures with the latest film and TV characters or celebrity icon, so you can return again and again.
Photo: Madame Tussauds
Madame Tussauds as the added benefit of having a much more personal disability experience than many of the other London attractions but this is partly because of the restrictions on the number of wheelchair users they can have. They can only accept three wheelchairs users in the building at any one time so it’s essential to call up and book a space in advance. Still, the majority of the facilities and entertainment are designed to be fully accessible aside from their ‘spirit of London’ ride. Trained staff are on hand to ensure disabled visitors can be transported safely via lift and throughout.